Malawi National Beach Soccer Team got off to a bad start at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals when they lost 4-2 to hosts Mozambique at Vilankulo Arena Friday.
The team gave Malawians back home some false hopes after impressive performance in the two periods of the match.
It was indeed heartbreak for the players who matched the hosts in many departments but individual errors and lack of experience cost them the match.
The hosts were playing in-front of President Filipe Nyusi and started the game on a high as they looked for an early goal but Malawi goalkeeper Justin Bonongwe was at his best when he denied them on several occasions.
Eventually, Malawi broke the deadlock after 10 minutes through Dala Simba, who beat Mozambique goalkeeper Horacio Tivane with a powerful shot.
The goal sent some shocking waves in Mozambique camp and they started panicking. Two minutes later, Nelson Manuel pulled the scores level with a good finish.
At the end of the first period of the match, the scores were level.
Captain Sandram Saddi restored Malawi’s lead in the 15th minute.
But one minute before the end of the second period, Julio Manjate equalised for the hosts after Malawi’s defence was caught napping.
In the final period of the match, Malawi switched off and failed to replicate the performance of the two opening periods.
Gerson Vincente put Mozambique in the lead to send the home crowd into wild celebrations after 26 minutes.
Manuel completed his brace in the 33rd minute of the match when he hammered the last nail in Malawi’s coffin.
It was difficult for Malawi to come back into the match as Mozambique held on for a vital win heading into the last Group A matches.
Malawi will face Morocco on Monday in a must win match whereas Mozambique will meet Morocco tomorrow.
After the match, Malawi Coach Willy Kumilambe picked some positives despite the loss.
“The players did well and I am happy with the performance. It is just like a flip of the coin that we lost the match. But no need to mourn the results, we should focus on the game against Morocco,” Kumilambe said.
Mozambique Coach Albineiro Adolfo Ussaca admitted that Malawi gave them a tough run for their money.
“Malawi is a very good team. The only difference is the score-line because we scored more goals than them. Now, I pray that Malawi will beat Morocco,” he said.
Action will continue this afternoon as holders Senegal face Uganda in Group B match whereas Egypt and Madagascar will face-off.
Two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals.
The finalists will qualify for 2023 Beach Soccer World Cup.